The journey of buying a home follows an exciting but often difficult road. A good buying agent can help you avoid obstacles, overcome obstacles and reach your destination.

Here’s what you need to know to find a good buyer’s real estate agent.

What is a buyer’s agent?

A buyer’s agent is a real estate professional who represents the interests of the buyer in a real estate transaction.

A home buying agent finds suitable properties for sale based on your goals and price range and walks you through the complex process of negotiating with listing agents and sellers to get the best deal.

Most traditional real estate agents work with both buyers and sellers, although an agent typically represents either the buyer or the seller in a single transaction. When representing a buyer, an agent has a legal responsibility to act in their best interests.

What is an exclusive buyer agent?

A home buyer’s exclusive agent represents buyers only and never sellers. With an exclusive buying agent, you never have to worry about a conflict of interest due to the agent or brokerage of the agent representing the other party.

Nerdy tip: There are far fewer exclusive buying agents than traditional agents, so they will be harder to find. The National Association of Exclusive Buying Agents has an online tool to locate members.

Beware of double agency

Some states allow “dual agency”, in which an agent represents both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. Avoid this arrangement if you want someone to negotiate on your behalf to get the best deal.

Sometimes the dual agency may appoint two agents from the same brokerage to represent a buyer and a seller. And in some states, other terms are used to describe agents who work with both the buyer and the seller but have no fiduciary responsibilities to them, such as the transactional agent or the facilitator.

The terms used to describe officers and their responsibilities vary by state and can be confusing. To avoid jargon, ask a potential agent if they will represent only your interests (not the seller’s) throughout the home buying process, and ask for a written description of the relationship.

What a buyer’s real estate agent does

A purchasing agent guides you through the home buying process – from looking for a house to closing. Among other things, a good buying agent:

Find homes for sale: A good agent will help you understand the type of house you can afford in today’s market, find homes listed that match your needs and price range, and then help narrow down the options to properties worth considering.

Help you make offers: Once you find a home you want to buy, your agent will advise you on how much to offer and what contingencies to be included in the contract, based on ownership and market analysis. A good agent will explain the terms of the contract to you, answer your questions, and walk you through each step of the process.

Negotiate with the seller: The agent will notify you of the seller’s response to your offer and advise you on next steps, such as whether to accept a seller’s counter-offer or negotiate the price and terms.

Refer you to other professionals: A buyer’s agent can refer you to other professionals, such as home inspectors, real estate lawyers and movers.

How is a buyer’s agent paid

The seller usually pays the real estate agent’s commission, which is split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent. A typical real estate commission is 5% to 6% of the selling price of a house.

How to find a buying agent

Shop for a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage before selecting a real estate agent. A mortgage pre-approval is a letter from a lender stating the loan amount and the terms for which you qualify. Getting pre-approved shows real estate agents and sellers that you are a serious buyer.

Once you have a pre-approval letter, it’s time to look for an agent. Here’s how to find one:

Get referrals

Ask for agent referrals from people you trust. If you are moving to a new city, ask for references from any contacts you have there. Future colleagues can point you in the right direction if you move to a new job, for example.

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Check experience and training

Find a full-time licensee Real estate agent that demonstrates a commitment to professionalism. How many years has the agent been in business and what professional training and certifications have they completed? Is the agent involved in local real estate organizations? Experience, training and strong professional connections in the community allow an agent to negotiate effectively on your behalf.

Interview agents and check references

Here are some topics to cover:

  • Communication and working style: How will the agent communicate with you? Will you be working directly with the agent or with his assistants? These details say a lot about the working styles, so you can choose the agent with an approach that suits your needs.

  • The hunting house: How will the agent find the homes listed in your price range? Ask how the agent has helped other buyers like you find a home.

  • Make offers and negotiate: How will the agent help you make competitive offers and negotiate with sellers? What challenges will you face in today’s market? A good agent will set realistic expectations.

Ask for the names of clients who have recently purchased a home and contact those clients to find out how satisfied they are.

Choose the right buying agent for you

An agent may have all the qualifications on paper to be successful, but may not be right for you. Whether you are a first time home buyer or when buying your third home, notice how you feel when you interact.

Does the agent’s communication style match yours? Is this someone you can trust to defend your interests? A good report counts as much as the agent’s experience and skill.